At a time when steam power was finding its first uses in America, Philadelphia opened two steam pumping stations, January 1801, to lift water from the Schuylkill River and distribute it through the city's wooden pipes and mains. By 1811 a new water power works was begun on the river near Morris Hill, and the Fairmount Water Works opened September 7, 1815. These water works represented the first large-scale application of steam pumping to water service in the country.
In the 18th century, French architect Claude-Nichols Ledoux was known for forging architectural beauty with industrial efficiency. One hundred years later his vision was given new life through the design of the Louisville Water Company Pumping Station.